As we get closer and closer to the first Sunday of the NFL regular season, I still have a lot of questions concerning the Eagles defense.
Carolina has a great running back tandem between DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. Although Stewart has been banged up the whole preseason, he is now healthy and ready to go. Williams really turned it on at the end of the year and showed everyone that he can be an elite running back. This is going to have to be the Eagles first priority on Sunday. Stopping the run is always the first priority, but this may be the strongest running back tandem the Eagles will face this year. Bunkley and Patterson are really going to have to dominate in the middle and show Carolina that they are going to have to pay if they run the ball straight up the middle. The defensive ends will need to contain and not let anything get bounced outside and potentially turn into a big play. Beyond the line, the linebackers are really going to need to play solid and this is where I worry the most. Omar Gaither has basically fallen into the starting MLB spot and is going to have to prove that he deserves it. I’m going to look for the Eagles to crowd the box during running situations and blow up the run. Quintin Mikell should play a big part stopping the run.
Through the air the obvious target is Steve Smith. Asante is going to need to shut him down all day and make sure not to let him get behind him. Carolina will try to get mismatches and I’m sure Smith would love to go one on one with the rookie, Macho Harris. Hopefully Harris’ experience playing corner in college will help him if he finds himself in this match up. Jake Delhomme didn’t do so well the last time he played in a game that meant something as he threw for five interceptions in the playoffs. I’m sure the Eagles watched this tape and will try to apply pressure to force him to make the same mistakes. If Harris can get his hands on the ball it would help to relieve some pressure for the fans and himself. He is filling the shoes of Brian Dawkins and everyone will be watching him closely.
Are you worried about the defense at all? If so, what worries you most?